I’ve long admired my Catholic friends in observing Lent. We share the fundamental truth of Jesus dying on the cross for our sins, but accent different aspects of God’s awesome gift. While my experiences as a Pentecostal focuses a great deal on God’s grace, my friends focus on His sacrifice. To honor God, they give up something for the six weeks leading up to Easter. I grew up believing God did the sacrificing, so I don’t have to. But both grace and sacrifice are important.
Denying one’s self, or sacrifice, is a good practice of self-discipline. This year, for the first time in my life, I decided to observe Lent. I’m giving up chocolate. It’s been difficult for me. Why is it the moment you decide to abstain from something, it’s everywhere calling your name? My practiced Catholic friends said it’s not that hard. It may be easy for them because they are accustomed to sacrifice. I am like new blisters earned from work never previously done, and trying my best not to whine about it.
Giving things up aka dying to self has become part of my writing too. I joined critique groups to improve my novel, Heart at War. The experience is awesome and daunting at the same time. There are days when I ask God, “Are you sure you picked the right person for this?” One valuable critic is an editor. She just sent me a list of how to identify unneccesary backstory etc. to delete. Yes – DELETE! Take out the knife and started slicing. It’s not as easy as just molding the story like play dough. You have to strip it down and delete the extra stuff off. My inner child says, “But I like that scene. So what if it doesn’t push the story forward. It’s a cool scene!” Then I take a deep breath, exhale deeply and start cutting. Maybe I’ll have an attachment for deleted scenes. You know, like the movie on DVD has that deleted scenes section.